Friday, April 15, 2011


Update: This blog is now dormant and I have moved to Crime Scraps Review, where you can read all the old posts and lots of new material.

Marek Krajewski's Eberhard Mock series is traveling back in time and in Phantoms of Breslau [translated from the Polish by Danusia Stok] we are now in 1919.

The naked bodies of four young men are found battered and horribly mutilated on an island in the River Oder.
"All they are wearing are sailor's hats on their heads and leather pouches over their genitals."

The vice department of the Police Praesidium are called in with its chief, Criminal Councillor Ilssheimer and his best men, Criminal Assistant Eberhard Mock and Criminal Sergeant Kurt Smolorz. The dead men's strange attire is not the only reason for the vice department being brought in, Mock is personally involved, a note has been left demanding that he 'admits to a past mistake, and believe......'

When two potential witnesses questioned by Mock are murdered the mystery deepens. Mock struggles to cope with his own demons, stubborn superiors and dissolute subordinates as he attempts to find the murderer, and protect his loved ones.

The Eberhard Mock series is unusual, and features such an original protagonist that it is perhaps not for everyone. I really enjoy these books but don't know what that says about my character.
Decadent, eccentric, and outrageous characters have sexual liaisons with beautiful women, whilst also over eating and drinking vast quantities of schnapps. Mock, is violent like Gilou in Spiral, but has a classical education and that makes him a much more complex anti-hero; although of course they both share a taste for prostitutes.
The narrative with its episodic timed passages raises the tension, and also draws the reader into Mock's world with the descriptions that capture the atmosphere of the city. You can almost smell the tobacco, the beer, the smoked fish, and the blood.

Admiring the edifice of the modern market hall, he relished a chilled glass of schnapps, which cut the taste of the Bismarck herrings whose silver skins were slashed with black criss-crosses. He divided a hot potato with his fork and slathered half of it with the soured cream coating the herrings.

Phantoms of Breslau is a little bit different from the average crime fiction book, with its secret societies, a unique protagonist, truly obnoxious characters, and the historical setting this gripping novel continues an increasingly impressive series. With so many books using the same repetitive plots and locations it is a pleasant surprise to read truly unique crime fiction with a fascinating historical setting.

A good client in taverns and brothels. A good client with whom nobody had any sympathy-no innkeeper and no whore. And why should they sympathize with him? After all how were they to know that some monster was slaying people and writing him letters!

The former German city of Breslau is now the Polish city of Wroclau; Marek Krajewski, a lecturer in Classical Studies at the University of Wroclau, explains the changes in the ethnicity of the city's population in the interview.


Blogger Bernadette said...

Your review is excellent but I'm afraid I just can't slip into the mind of this author...had to abandon the first book and can't see myself having another go any time soon.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Bernadette I think the Mock books are an acquired taste as they are so brutal and dark.

6:03 AM  

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